March 14, 2009

*Courtesy of Western Washington Athletics

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Guard Brandon Larrieu scored 24 points, including six in the final 90 seconds as Seattle Pacific University claimed an 82-77 victory over nationally ranked Western Washington University in an opening-round game Friday at the NCAA Division II West Sub-Regional being played on Haggen Court in Western's Sam Carver Gymnasium.

Guard Ira Graham (Sr., Fontana, CA) scored a game-high 29 points for Western, which concluded the season 21-6. The Vikings ranked No.23 in the final National Association of Basketball Coaches/NCAA II Top 25, were the No.2 seed in the West Region.

Seattle Pacific, the No.7 seed, improved to 19-9 overall. The Falcons will face Cal Poly Pomona, an 83-81 overtime victor over Cal State San Bernardino, in a regional semifinal Saturday (7 p.m.) at Carver Gym.

Western held a 67-64 lead after a 3-pointer by Steve Alford (Sr., Bakersfield, CA/South) with six minutes left. The Falcons then rallied with eight straight points. Casey Reed hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, and Jeff Downs then hit a layup and was fouled. Downs missed the free throw, but the Falcons got the rebound, and Downs, who finished with 19 points, took a feed from Reed and hit a 3-pointer.

That gave Seattle Pacific a 72-67 lead with 4:50 to go, and the Falcons led the rest of the way.

Western, which had recovered from an eight-point deficit in the last two minutes to beat the Falcons, 76-75, in the final week of the regular season, looked like it might rally again.

Down five, 78-73, with 1:14 left, the Vikings got two free throws each from Calin Schell (Sr., Chelan) and Graham to narrow the margin to one with 30 seconds to go. Larrieu hit two free throws with 28 seconds left, giving Western a chance to tie, but Downs stole a cross-court pass, and a Larrieu layin with 10 seconds left iced the victory for Seattle Pacific.

The Falcons, who beat the Vikings at Carver Gym, 86-84 on Jan. 17, shot 64.3 percent (18-of-28) from the field in the second half Friday, and 56.9 percent (33-of-58) for the game.

Alford had 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for Western, and Schell added 10 points and 11 rebounds as the Vikings claimed a 37-27 advantage on the boards.

Graham's 29 points gave him 1,465 for his career, seventh-best in school history.

Western finished 11-3 at home, two of the losses to Seattle Pacific.